National Wetlands Update September 2012
Issue No. 21, September 2012
The Burrima project - restoration in the Macquarie Marshes
Susan Madden, Macquarie River Food and Fibre, Gillian Hogendyk, Macquarie Marshes Environmental Trust
Landholders attend one of the first project working
bees, August 2005. (Macquarie River Food and Fibre)
Burrima, which means black swan in the language of the Wailwan People, is a 260 hectare property in the Macquarie Marshes that was purchased by a group of local water users in 2005 with the aim of managing the property for restoration and conservation.
Though degraded at the time of purchase, the property contained a valuable snapshot of the main vegetation communities of the Macquarie Marshes. These include dry chenopod shrublands, coolibah woodlands, a flooded river red gum forest, and a slice of the core North Marsh reed bed – part of the largest reed bed in southern Australia.
Following the purchase of Burrima the group embarked on a program of both passive and active rehabilitation. The group has worked closely with the Traditional Owners and the local community as well as government agencies, including the Central West Catchment Management Authority and the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, to develop a range of management actions suitable for the property. These have included destocking, fencing, preservation of cultural heritage, revegetation, water ponding and regular site monitoring.
The actions undertaken during the height of the drought were aimed at restoring vegetative cover to rebuild resilience in the marsh environment. Restoration of vegetative cover during the drought was particularly important to maximise the ecological benefit from limited environmental watering events. Wetland vegetation behaves like a sponge, absorbing and holding water, and slowing flows, so that more land is inundated for longer periods.
Burrima in May 2012. (Macquarie River Food and
The program at Burrima has continued to reap rewards and now, almost seven years later, regular visitors to the property can see significant improvements in the condition and extent of wetland vegetation, including the expansion of the reed bed, and re-growth of young river red gum and coolibah trees.
The purchase of Burrima has been an important step in understanding the combined effects of flow regimes and land management practices on wetland ecosystems.
Through engagement in the project, landholders have developed a greater understanding of the drivers of wetland health and have been able to make a proactive contribution to the maintenance and restoration of the marsh environment. The Burrima project has wider implications for recognising the importance of integrated land and water management to improving wetland health.
Further information on the Burrima project is available at the Macquarie Marshes Environmental Trust .